If you’re a highly seasoned and experienced producer or creative director, you’ve probably encountered all of this advice early on in your journey. Nevertheless, it’s always helpful to get a refresher in what you love to do! The task and responsibility of managing interactions and expectations, streamlining production, and coordinating multiple stakeholders and suppliers is no small feat. This can make anybody anxious, and if you’re self-conscious about how you are perceived, it can be especially challenging to be in the moment.

Your photo shoot doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety, though. Partnered with the right photographer, you’re going to have a great experience that’s fun, fulfilling, and financially rewarding. But if you’re still concerned, then try these practical suggestions:

Communicate with Your Photographer

Communication is key in all things, and great communication is essential to producing great visual content. If you’ve got a very specific idea in mind or a thoroughly planned method of execution, take the time to sit down with your commercial photographer before your production day and explain how you expect the shoot to flow and what you expect to produce. Be upfront and honest about what you’ve got to work with and what you want to get out of it and ask for his or her opinion on what might be the best way to achieve this.

Conversely, if you have a loose idea of what you’re going for and need a bit of help to put your ideas to paper, make sure that you express this as well. Your photographer may just surprise you with the ideas and executions he or she offers up. Either way, this approach to production lends itself to the collaboration and positive team dynamics that make for great shoots.

Practice Creative Flexibility

Things don’t always go the way we hope they will, and it’s crucial that you are flexible enough to keep things going despite deviations from your master plan. Aside from having a back-up ready for crises, you need to be able to think on your feet and work creatively with your photographer to produce the best end result possible with whatever scenario you’re faced with on set. This is especially true of productions with multiple variables, for example, an outdoor photoshoot in winter with three models. It’s a good idea to prepare some spare layout ideas or concept boards before your shoot, so that you come readily prepared with several possible executions should there be any problems with your original plan. Some may think that this is unnecessary (more often than not it’s a still life photographer saying this!) but it’s something you’d rather have and not need than need and not have.

Let the Inspiration Flow

While I always advocate careful creative planning and methodical execution, I have to admit many of my favourite photos are the result of lucky accidents and spontaneous creative decisions. Yes, careful preparation and meticulous set-up contributed to the transpiring “luck” from which my best-loved photos emerged, but it would not have happened if I wasn’t allowed to play around, suggest things that were a little out of the box, and experiment with set-ups that may or may not have worked. Remember to stay creative and let the inspiration flow, keep your team running smoothly to schedule but always allow for a little bit of play.

Have Fun!

The best productions are the ones I come away from feeling a bit tired but creatively energised, with an aching back but a mind full of inspiration. Photo and video shoots are a great place to make new friends with people in the same industry. And by keeping things fun and lighthearted you are quite likely to gain some useful and rewarding contacts for future projects. An enjoyable working environment is often key to a cohesive and unified team effort, and as long as everyone stays on the ball there’s no harm in keeping things lively and congenial. Spend your time on set doing great work, making lasting memories, and you’ll be all the happier for it!

All photos used in this guide are from photoshoots I’ve shot personally and sometimes produced, taken with a Canon 5D Mk III + 100mm f/2.8L Macro, Sony A9 + 70-200 f/2.8, a Fujifilm X100S with 50mm teleconverter, and Contax G2 with a 50mm f/2.0 and Agfa Vista 400, shot in various locations including my studio.

What do you think of the guide? If you found that useful, you might want to download a practical list I’ve put together of the 7 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Planning Commercial Photoshoots. Download your free copy now by clicking this link.

Are there any tips you’d recommend for creatives just starting out? Share what you know with others just like you by leaving a comment below.